When the coronavirus pandemic hit ACT borders, the home inspection circuit saw a wave of healthcare workers flock to the rental market looking to relocate closer to Canberra Hospital in Woden Valley, according to agents.
Hayman Partners business development manager Emily Kelly said the agency saw a spike in the number of applications received from professionals in the health sector looking at rental homes in Hughes, Garran, Curtin and Phillip.
“It’s the closest suburbs from Canberra Hospital and for some properties, it’s only walking distance,” said Ms Kelly.
“Before the pandemic, we had applications from a number of occupations but when the ACT started taking more measures to limit the spread of COVID-19, we received a higher number of applications from healthcare workers than usual.”
However, Ms Kelly noted that very few families, who had frontline workers, had moved to the area because houses in Woden came with a heftier rental price tag than apartments.
“We have more individuals or couples with no children move to Woden, but had the occasional family where one or both parents are working in healthcare,” Ms Kelly said.
“As you’d expect, the families were looking for a house in the area with plenty of room for the kids, while the couples or single tenants were looking for a one or two-bedroom apartment that was close to Canberra Hospital.”
According to the latest Domain Rental Report for the March quarter, houses in the Woden Valley region had the highest growth over the quarter at 6.8 per cent to a median rental price of $630 per week. Over the year, the area also recorded the highest growth for houses in Canberra with a 5 per cent growth.
As for units, Woden Valley had a slight growth of 1.2 per cent over the year to $420 per week, however quarterly growth remained stagnant.
Lawson resident Rasha Alyassen works as a technical officer at Canberra Hospital’s COVID-19 clinic and has been looking to relocate to Woden for the past two months.
“I’m already familiar with the Woden Valley area and the local shopping centre there and moving there would mean I wouldn’t have to wake up as early to beat the morning rush of commuters. [The hospital] would only be down the road or less than 15 minutes away,” Ms Alyassen said.
Ms Alyassen, who currently lives in a three-bedroom shared townhouse, says she is looking for a one or two-bedroom apartment or townhouse that is between $300 to $400 in Garran, Hughes or Phillip.
When looking at the suburbs’ data, Garran units had a median rental price of $540 per week, down 1.8 per cent year-on-year; Hughes was at $340 per week, up 3 per cent year-on-year and Phillip units had a median of $430 per week, up 3.6 per cent from the previous year.
For houses, which townhouses fall under, Garran had a median rental price of $710 per week, a 16.4 per cent increase year-on-year; Hughes $693, up 6.3 per cent year-on-year; and Phillip houses had a median of $485, up 2.1 per cent from the previous year.
While a house in Woden Valley might be out of Ms Alyassen’s budget, she said an apartment would suffice in the meantime.
“I would save a lot of time and money moving to Woden and might also be able to get home while the sun is still up, something I haven’t had the luxury of in recent months,” Ms Alyassen added.
Property manager Mela Tonga of Independent, who specialises in the Woden Valley region, said she’s leased houses priced between $550 to $850 to families with healthcare workers in recent months, and also rented out apartments to single tenants and couples for $350 up to $450.
“I’ve seen a spike in healthcare workers relocating to be closer to Woden and along the way I’ve also met a few people relocating interstate to work here in Canberra within the health sector,” Ms Tonga said.
“Woden Valley is an area that is becoming very popular, not only because of its proximity to Canberra Hospital but it’s also close to some of the best school’s in the capital and it’s a convenient location … traffic isn’t an issue we have to deal with here, it’s a short drive to and from the CBD and you still have a suburban lifestyle.”
Speaking on the rental market moving forward, Ms Kelly says unit and house rental prices in Woden Valley should continue to increase in the coming months with healthcare workers driving the median asking price up.
“There are a lot of people who are wanting to get into Woden Valley. People are still moving and looking for a new home … it’s a competitive area to get in,” Ms Kelly said.